Estate Planning for Blended Families

If you have children from a previous marriage or relationship (or your spouse does), then careful estate planning is absolutely critical to the financial future of your loved ones. What does that really mean, though? How do you move forward and ensure that everyone receives their fair share upon your death, and that any minor children are cared for in your absence? The following explains, and provides some key information on where to find assistance with your blended family estate plan.

Why is Estate Planning is So Critical?

Estate planning is a difficult process – not just because it is a complex matter, but also because it requires you to think about your death: what might happen, what you want to happen, and how you want your assets to be distributed. Yet it truly is necessary, especially when you have children or a blended family. Children need a guardian named if they are minors. If they are adults, those who are not blood related could potentially lose out on an inheritance. Or it could cause arguments in your family after you are gone. Estate planning gives you the chance to make your wishes known, ensures that the right assets go to the right individuals, and protects minor children by ensuring they have a guardian that you and your spouse trust.

Things to Consider in a Blended Family Estate Plan

Because every family is unique, each estate plan is different. This remains true for blended families as well. However, there are a few similarities from one family to the next. Most must make considerations regarding the assets to be assigned to each child. Those with minor children should also name at least an emergency guardian, primary guardian, and a "backup" guardian, just in case the primary passes away, is no longer up to the task, or is otherwise unable to fulfill their duties at the time of the parent's death.

Family dynamics must also be considered. Unfortunately, some may struggle more with this consideration than any other. For example, a stepfather may want to leave an inheritance behind for his stepchildren, but is not certain how the rest of the family might react. The matter might be even further compounded if he also happens to have a natural child that has an addiction problem or trouble managing money. Then he not only has to worry about how the rest of the family might react to the step-child's inheritance; he may also have to worry about whether his natural child will feel slighted in his smaller (or even non-existent) inheritance.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Attorneys

If you do not have an estate plan in place, and are uncertain of where to start, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. We are dedicated to ensuring you and your family understand your options and will work to find creative solutions to fit your needs. Skilled and experienced, we protect your family's interests, now and into the future. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers today.


Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples Has Changed – Have You Updated Your Plan Yet?

DuPage County estate planning lawyersAlthough same-sex marriage is now legal on a national level, few couples have thought to come forward and update their estate plan. Unfortunately, this can be problematic. It can also lead to a significant loss of funds upon a party's death. Learn more about how an updated estate plan can benefit you and your partner, and why it is so important.

How Estate Planning Has Changed or Same-Sex Couples

Prior to 2015, same-sex couples who were not in a state that legally recognized their marriage had to find inventive ways to ensure their partner received benefits upon their death. Many had to take out insurance policies that were much higher than heterosexual couples because there needed to be enough to pay for estate taxes. This has now changed.

Same-sex couples now receive the same tax and gift deductions as all other couples, which means you may be able to reduce the amount of your current life insurance policy. Further, it gives you the opportunity to free up other liquidity in your financial plan. Same-sex couples should also check with their employer to see about adding their spouse to their life insurance policy; this option, which was not often available prior to 2015, can also save you money.

Same-Sex Couples May Still Have Unique Estate Planning Challenges

While, in many ways, estate planning for same-sex couples has become less complex, there may still be some unique challenges. For example, if one spouse has legal guardianship of a child brought into the marriage, but the other spouse does not, this could present some unique issues that need to be addressed in the estate plan. Guardianship may need to be clearly outlined to ensure the other parent receives guardianship in the event of the other parent's death.

Updating or Preparing Your Estate Plan

If you have an estate plan that was created prior to 2015, speak to an attorney about updating yours. If you have not created one yet, now is the time to do it. Also, please note that do-it-yourself options are always discouraged since they do not always address the unique issues that same-sex couples face. Make sure yours is done with the best interest of you and your partner in mind. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney for help with your will or trust.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC, we provide personalized estate planning to fit your needs. Dedicated and experienced, we can devise a creative plan to protect the interests of you, your spouse, and any children you may have. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers to learn more. Call us at 630-665-2500 today.



Tips for Protecting Your Children with a Carefully Crafted Will

DuPage County wills and trusts attorneysNo parent wants to think about dying before their children reach adulthood. Sadly, it does happen, and often before the parents have had the chance to create a will. This can leave children in limbo, create problems for their financial future, and ultimately impact their quality of life. Know how to protect your child with a carefully crafted will.

Designate First Responders

While most parents know who they would want to serve as a long-term guardian for their children, and may have even already discussed the idea with the selected person, many fail to consider what will happen in the minutes, hours, and days immediately after their death. For example, consider the following scenario: You are on your way to pick up your children from school but are killed in an accident. What happens next? Who will pick up your children and ensure they are cared for?

Without proper planning, the reality is that Child Protective Services will have to step in. This means that your child will be sent to a foster home until someone is able to take custody of them, or until the courts decide who should be their legal guardian. Avoid this by choosing a first responder. Talk to them, let them know how important their role is, and give them clear, concise guidelines on how to proceed.

Choose a Long-Term Care Guardian

In some cases, the long-term care guardian is the same person as the emergency responder. However, this is not always the case. Long-term guardians do not always live close enough to be first responders, and not all first responders wish to serve as long-term guardians. In these situations, it is critical that you also choose a long-term care guardian for your child. Discuss the matter with each prospect and always have a back-up. Most of all, get it down in a legal document.

Providing for Your Children After Death

If you have taken the steps to execute a will, hopefully you have also found ways to ensure your children are provided for, in the event of your death. It could be an already established estate, assets you currently own, or it could be through a life insurance policy. Whatever the case, ensure you carefully plan out how and when this money will be used. Think as far ahead as you can – college, emergency situations, braces – and outline the details in your will.

Our DuPage County Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help

When you are creating a will to protect the future of your children, there are a lot of factors and aspects to consider. Our experienced DuPage County estate planning attorneys can help. Known for crafting creative solutions, and for providing all of our clients with a personalized experience, we will sit down with you, one-on-one, and ensure that your wishes are clearly and concisely outlined in your will. For more information, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC and schedule a consultation. Call 630-665-2500 today.